Mark Leary

Author, Professor of Psychology


Mark R. Leary, Ph. D., Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University obtained his B.A. from West Virginia Wesleyan College and his doctorate from the University of Florida. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and former president of the International Society for Self and Identity. Named by the Institute for Scientific Information as among the 25 most productive scholars in psychology (1986-1990), Dr. Leary’s research and writing focus on interpersonal motivation and emotion, particularly processes involving the self, areas in which he has published more than 200 scholarly articles and chapters. He was the founding editor of Self and Identity, a new scholarly journal, and served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology for nine years.

In his book, The Curse of the Self : Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life, Dr. Leary explores the pitfalls created by our unique ability to self-reflect. He describes how most of us have a higher than average perception of ourselves which distorts our perception of the world, as a result, leading us to make bad decisions based on biased information. He also offers ideas for ways to counteract the “curse of the self.

Dr. Leary have been interested in many aspects of self-presentational processes, such as its role in emotional and behavioral problems and the negative health effects of being concerned with one’s self-presentations. His book Self-Presentation: Impression Management and Interpersonal Behavior (1995) is about the ways in which human behavior is affected by superficial concerns with public impressions. He developed a re-conceptualization of self-esteem and self-esteem motivation, citing the sociometer perspective as a guide for understanding the extensive literature on self-esteem and its link to emotional and behavioral problems. His book Interpersonal Rejection (2001) provides both the theory of rejection and Dr. Leary’s research on the topic of hurt feelings, lowered self-esteem, and aggression against other people.